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Study: Sad Songs Help Us Cope With Negative Emotions Better Than Happy Songs

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Listening to sad music may help us cope with the experience of negative emotions better than happy songs, a new study suggests.

New research from De Montfort University Leicester found that listening to melancholy tracks from artists like Adele and Radiohead help many people feel better when coping with negative emotions or loss.

Dr. Annemieke van den Tol worked with researchers from other universities to look at the listening habits of about 450 people and evaluate their range of emotions and circumstances.

While bubbly, energetic songs were unarguably enjoyed by many listeners, study participants said they turned to more emotional tracks when it came to life's hardships.

"Sadness often involves emotional loss, which is not a problem which can be solved or reversed. The only real way to move on and feel better is by accepting the situation and we found that people were able to do this by listening to sad music, but not so much by listening to happy music," van den Tol said.

The research involved two separate studies. The first asked participants to fill out an online questionnaire of statements, which they scored each from one to five based on how true they felt the statement was. The second study evaluated why people chose to listen to less upbeat music when feeling blue, asking participants to site occasions and reasoning.

The majority of people agreed that they turned to sad music more often than happy music to cope with negative or overwhelming feelings. More people said they felt sad music helped them deal with grief or let out a good cry.

Happy music was not linked to dealing with negative emotions, according to the study.

"Ultimately, this study shows that even though many people prefer listening to happy music in general, they find sad music helps them deal with sadness more often," van den Tol said. "By connection to the sad emotions in the music, they are able to turn negative emotions into something more peaceful, allowing them to move on and accept these."

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